PORTLAND - Kaiser Permanente is offering an apology to 6,500 members. The HMO admits it tested the members for HIV without their consent or knowledge.
Kaiser issued a statement explaining that the testing began April 11, 2013 as it began adopting the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendation that everyone between the ages of 15 and 65 get tested.
“We’re providing this important preventive care service at no charge in an effort to help save more lives through early detection,” said Dr. Tom Hickey, Chief Medical Operations Officer.
“But between April 11 and May 5, 2013 we gave the HIV test to some members between the ages of 50 and 65 as part of their routine laboratory panels, without first speaking to them about this important screening and offering them the choice to opt out. Patients who test HIV negative are receiving results via mail. Patients who test HIV positive are being contacted by their care team,” Dr. Hickey said in a prepared statement.
He said the company is sorry.
“We deeply regret that this lack of communication may have caused unnecessary concern for our members and patients,” Dr. Hickey wrote.
Outside Kaiser’s Interstate Medical Center in North Portland, some patients said the unauthorized testing was outrageous.
“That sounds illegal and unethical,” said Marie Langenes who at the same time praised Kaiser for her care during a recent surgery.
Another patient, Lindsey Armstrong, said she was one of the people tested without her knowledge.
“I was a little surprised to get the results,” she said. “I just thought they were being extra thorough. I didn’t think it was any invasion of privacy since the results weren’t broadcast anywhere. I had no issue with it. I think Kaiser is fabulous,” she said.